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Big Read
00000179-cdc6-d978-adfd-cfc6d7a40000The National Endowment for the Arts' "Big Read" looks to encourage literacy by holding community events around the country celebrating a single book each year. This year's book selection is Into the Beautiful North" by Luis Alberto Urrea, which follows a nineteen-year-old woman who travels to the United States to bring back seven men--including her father--to help defend her Mexican village from danger.Of course, the stories of people who come to this country are wide and varied, and many of those stories live right here in Wichita. Over the next few weeks, we'll hear some of those stories. Follow them below.-The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of citizens. The Big Read brings together partners across the country to encourage citizens to read for pleasure and enlightenment.

Will Swanson Saves 'Tarzan of the Apes'

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This is a Will and I would save Tarzan of the Apes By Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Well, if we're at a point where society is just burning books because books are bad, you know, the time for argument is over and you just kind of want to protect some stories. And aside from being a good story on its own Tarzan--as Burroughs demonstrated with like 20 odd sequels--it's also really good source material for other stories. So you can keep the narrative traditions that have kind of shape to human culture for so long kind of going.

I think he kind of speaks to this sense that we all kind of have that we don't necessarily belong or that, you know, there's some aspect of us that's missing because he's you know he's marooned and he's adopted by gorillas and they call him 'Tarzan' which is, you know, supposed to be 'white skin' in their language. So from the beginning he's just set apart by the fact that he's not truly one of the people he lives with. And kind of throughout the whole novel he struggles with this.

You've got this guy who... he identifies with the gorillas who raised him. He can read English but he's never heard it so he can't speak it. So he's... he's not you know in a sense truly an Englishman.

He eventually learns to speak French but he can't read it and his parents are English so he's not properly a Frenchman either.

And, you know, the of the first humans He met, you know, he despised them because they they killed the gorilla who nurtured him as a child. And so the bonds that tie us together are kind of frail.

It is an extremely compelling and accessible story that, without making an argument for the existence of books, will make the case for the existence of books in the sheer quality of its storytelling.